UK Transport Secretary Takes Action Against Belarus

UK Transport Secretary Takes Action Against Belarus

23

Yesterday we saw the government of Belarus essentially hijack a Ryanair flight to Lithuania by faking a bomb threat and then deploying a fighter jet to force the plane to divert to Belarus, all to arrest someone opposed to the country’s dictator.

I’ve been wondering whether we’d see governments and airlines take action against Belarus, or if this would just be swept under the rug and allowed to happen. Well, UK Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, has become one of the first government officials to take decisive action against Belarus. He has instructed the UK Civil Aviation Authority to:

  • Suspend all foreign carrier permits held by Belarusian air carriers until further notice, including for both scheduled and charter flights (this primarily impacts Belavia, the government owned airline)
  • Request that all UK registered airliners avoid overflight of Belarus

Kudos to Shapps, this is a fantastic start. Government owned Belavia operates a single route to the UK, from Minsk to London Gatwick. The airline will no longer be allowed to operate the route, at least until its operating permit is restored.

No other airlines fly between the UK and Belarus, though some airlines based in the UK do use Belarusian airspace. For example, British Airways’ flight between London and Moscow typically flies over Belarus, so that will have to be rerouted.

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has said that he’s “extremely concerned” about what happened on this Ryanair flight, and is currently investigating whether it’s safe for airlines registered in the US to fly over Belarus.

Of course the implications here are ultimately more limited — Belavia doesn’t fly to the US, and there aren’t many US-registered flights that operate in Belarusian airspace. Still, on principle it seems like a message should be sent here, along the lines of what Shapps did.

Bottom line

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has become among the first to take action against Belarus. He has banned Belavia from operating to the UK, and has also banned airlines from the UK from using Belarusian airspace. It’s time for others to follow.

What do you make of this response to Belarus’ airplane hijacking, and do you think other countries will follow?

Conversations (23)
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  1. GLCTraveler

    Time for Pete to put on his "Big Boy" panties and do the same as the UK did, as opposed to pussyfooting with some [email protected]%t statement that we are "investigating"!! Come on Pete......

  2. Mr Moon

    @UpperDeckJohnny and @Pierre
    There are no flights between Russia and the UK, there haven't been all year.

    There's very few flights from Minsk to Moscow currently also, the little there are are fully booked until the weekend. Would then need to fly from Russia to Germany, then Germany to UK.

    But screw that, I'll stay here

  3. UpperDeckJohnny

    @Mr Moon

    @CRAIG comment: If you need to travel, fly MSQ-SVO and connect. A little inconvenient, but it will get you to wherever you need to be.

  4. Aussie

    Don’t think many ppl want to fly to a sh*those like Belarus.

  5. Pierre

    As usual, the UK acts with honor, balls, and confirms itself as being the last civilized country in the world.

    Mr Moon can always connect in Moscow. According to ITA Matrix it doesn't even cost more...

  6. Mr Moon

    @Icarus

    I guess you didn't read my message. The land border is closed by Belarus. The only way in or out is via Minsk international airport.

    I've been living in Minsk for well over a year. Dud to the pandemic I've been waiting for a long time to visit England and see family. That day was finally about to happen.

  7. David

    @Truth you hate

    Is that you Mr.Lukashenko? Maybe you should get back to running your country (and I don't mean running it into the ground).

  8. SuperSnooper

    @Truth you hate.
    Are you a Russian government troll on secondment to Belarus, or home grown "talent"?
    Either way, you're not very good at it, are you?

  9. Жыве

    @truth you hate:
    You’re an idiot, go take your lukashenko-spam and shove it somewhere else. Заебатька херов

    Glad to see a quick response from the UK, and now also the EU (after this article was posted).

  10. Truth you hate

    Oh, if British are so princepled and indignant about the "incident", I wonder where was their reaction when one whole Washington Post journalist was murdered, dismembered and dissolved in an acid, all in the premises of a consulate? There was none, wasn't it? Business as usual as they say. Yet they make so much noise now that it's getting funny. On the other hand, this blogger aka "journalist" is wanted not for his reporting but...

    Oh, if British are so princepled and indignant about the "incident", I wonder where was their reaction when one whole Washington Post journalist was murdered, dismembered and dissolved in an acid, all in the premises of a consulate? There was none, wasn't it? Business as usual as they say. Yet they make so much noise now that it's getting funny. On the other hand, this blogger aka "journalist" is wanted not for his reporting but coordination of attacks against the Government and involvement in a failed attempt of a Ukrainian style regime change orchestrated by the West. All in all, Governments have the right to protect themselves against such people. If Americans believe they can force land planes to catch Snowden, Belarussians can do the same with their enemies too! Think about it

  11. Jerry

    Nice move. Now planes have to fly around belarus to get to russia, requiring more fuel, which councidentally comes from russia.

  12. Icarus

    @mr moon It’s not a dreadful response What did you expect ? I doubt you’re in Belarus. If you travelled there against U.K. government advice during a pandemic you should expect disruptions anyhow. Cross over the border and travel from Lithuania.

  13. Mr Moon

    This is a dreadful response from the UK which only harms the Belarusian people, not the president. Lukashenko will be perfectly happy if it's even harder for Belarusians to leave the country. The land border is already closed by Belarus to prevent Belarusians from leaving the country.

    And did the UK government even consider British nationals in Belarus who were due to fly home (myself included)?

    Waiting to see what the EU does now,...

    This is a dreadful response from the UK which only harms the Belarusian people, not the president. Lukashenko will be perfectly happy if it's even harder for Belarusians to leave the country. The land border is already closed by Belarus to prevent Belarusians from leaving the country.

    And did the UK government even consider British nationals in Belarus who were due to fly home (myself included)?

    Waiting to see what the EU does now, Ukraine seems to be planning to follow the UK and Lithuanian and ban the flights.

  14. Tim Dunn

    Even if US airlines do not fly to Belarus, it is likely that US airlines will not be allowed to codeshare on flights that overfly or serve Belarus airspace. Same thing happened in the Middle East when conflict there ratcheted up.

  15. jojo

    Good on the uk for taking action I hope the EU does the same

  16. CRAIG

    Good Luck with any retaliation. Belarus is a vassal of Russia of which it was a part of for most of history until 1991. I suppose there are some things to do barring a major incident they won't amount to much. Belarus is predominately dependent on Russia for trade and commerce. Anything done to Belarus in name you might as well consider it as being done to Russia as well. The easiest way to deal...

    Good Luck with any retaliation. Belarus is a vassal of Russia of which it was a part of for most of history until 1991. I suppose there are some things to do barring a major incident they won't amount to much. Belarus is predominately dependent on Russia for trade and commerce. Anything done to Belarus in name you might as well consider it as being done to Russia as well. The easiest way to deal with it is to simply fly around the airspace. It means longer flights and a bit more expense but aside from political action IDK. You can restrict the flight certifications and origin and destination flight plans from Minsk but I can't imagine the volume of air traffic from Belarus to Western Europe is all that large to begin with. The flight from Moscow to Minsk is only 1 hour 30 minutes so if worst comes to worst they will just connect.

  17. Justin

    Good they need to be taught a lesson and be made an example out of so no one else tries to pull anything like this.

  18. KEVIN

    Thoughts and prayers to that blogger. If this is all international community willing to do, it’s a pretty pathetic response.

  19. derek

    It's time to start a One USA policy because of this. It would be like the One China policy that China has. All countries would have to recognize the US as the government of Belarus. Close your embassy there or else. Force Marriott to list it as Minsk, USA not Minsk, Belarus.

  20. Abey

    The USS should expel the Belarus ambassador, such flagrant muscle flexing needs to be properly addressed or it will happen again

  21. Sel, D.

    If operating permits aren’t pulled in other countries, carriers should terminate codeshare agreements with Belavia effective immediately. This includes Air France and KLM to name a couple.

  22. Dick Bupkiss

    So, what international airlines do fly to Belarus?

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GLCTraveler

Time for Pete to put on his "Big Boy" panties and do the same as the UK did, as opposed to pussyfooting with some [email protected]%t statement that we are "investigating"!! Come on Pete......

Mr Moon

@UpperDeckJohnny and @Pierre There are no flights between Russia and the UK, there haven't been all year. There's very few flights from Minsk to Moscow currently also, the little there are are fully booked until the weekend. Would then need to fly from Russia to Germany, then Germany to UK. But screw that, I'll stay here

UpperDeckJohnny

@Mr Moon @CRAIG comment: If you need to travel, fly MSQ-SVO and connect. A little inconvenient, but it will get you to wherever you need to be.

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